Friday, 15 January 2010

Maria & the Tramp …

(first published 4 January 2008 in the FLOG)
A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)



Recycled Post

Maria is a bitch; the Tramp is just a tramp. Maria is infested with fleas and so, I suspect, is the Tramp.

Before I go any further, and before I get myself into deep, deep trouble, allow me to explain. The Tramp is something of a local celebrity in as much as he is always 'there'. Stroll around our local area and you will almost certainly bump into the Tramp. And his female dog, Maria.

The reason I have gone to such pains to offer an explanation is that my soul-mate also bears the name Maria, as you would expect of any good Portuguese catholic girl. There the similarity ends!

Bill Owen as 'Compo'
Bill Owen as 'Compo'

The easiest way to describe the Tramp is for me to make the comparison between him and 'Compo' of the delightful sitcom, "Last of the Summer Wine", even down to the woollen beanie-hat and rope belt. If that is too parochial a reference, click on the link to get a feeling for the longevity of this BBC comedy stalwart.

The Tramp and I have something in common. I am retired and spend my day at the computer or walking the local area with my dog. He has probably never worked a day in his life and also spends his time walking the neighbourhood with his dog. We tend to gravitate towards each other for a few minutes of conversation at various times of the day. ThysonSpelled correctly.

The dog has a longer pedigree than I have, but when we tried to register him with the Portuguese Kennel Club with the original spelling of the name it was not acceptable as it was already taken, and we were offered 'Tyson97' as an alternative.

How unoriginal! So we inserted an 'H' where you wouldn't expect one.

, my brute of a boxer, gets on well with Maria, and when we meet up they invariably throw themselves into uncontrollable fits of leaping and greeting that pleases both owners.

The Tramp is well-spoken and has a good command of the English language. He is also very critical of my inability to speak Portuguese, and takes every opportunity to remind me that it can only be my laziness that is stopping me from doing so. I always agree with his assessment, and that is usually enough to pacify him, encouraging him to continue our conversation in the language of my choice!

Three or four months ago he and his dog disappeared from the locality and nobody seemed to have any idea where he had gone. It wasn't immediately obvious to me that the pair had vanished into thin air as I don't always make it as far as his pitch. But it was on one fine afternoon during the summer that I noticed that his tent, that was usually pitched outside the back gates of the cemetery, had gone.

This didn't come as a total surprise as a similar occurrence several months earlier had also seen the Tramp, Maria and the tent disappear from the cemetery gates. But on that occasion they had only moved a couple of hundred metres to the building closest to the cemetery, in which the tramp had been provided with 'social housing'.

I have never been able to establish the precise reason for that earlier move. Had the residents of neighbouring buildings complained about his impromptu domicile outside the cemetery gates? Had the car-driving visitors to the cemetery complained that they had been robbed of a parking space? Had the local council, against all known council dictum, decided to take care of a 'homeless person'? Whatever the reason, it didn't last more than three months. He was back outside the gates, and apparently as content as ever. He did express his appreciation of the local council for attempting to (re)house him, but lamented their short-sightedness in not taking into consideration that he was not in a position to pay the low monthly rental. And so, in a typical bureaucratic bungle, they gave him a home - and then snatched it away!

Now it appeared that, yet again, some well-meaning council busybody had decided to rehabilitate the Tramp, but this time to a location outside our area. He certainly wasn't appearing on anybody's local radar. Life moves on, and as the weeks turned into months, I was convinced that this time the Tramp had been encouraged to live life as the rest of us are forced to. A little box and a 'loss' of freedom was probably a price worth paying for a smidgen of permanence.

A few days before Christmas (2008) I was walking Thyson across the green when I noticed a loose dog galloping in our direction from about 200 metres away. My immediate thoughts were, "Bummer! Loose dog. No owner in sight." There was bound to be a fracas. Thyson is not a sociable animal. So I pulled him in from his extended-6-metre-lead distance and resigned myself to controlling the situation the best way I could. Much to our delight the loose dog turned out to be that flea-bag Maria. She greeted us profusely, pranced and pirouetted, and crawled in for a pat and a cuddle. I looked for the Tramp, and sure enough I spotted him about 250 metres away, walking in the opposite direction. No chance of attracting his attention this time, but I was certain our paths would soon cross again.

And they have.

The same reasons I've mentioned previously apply to his 'second coming'. He has pitched his tent in the same place outside the back gates of the cemetery. It obviously irritates the sanctimonious fat-cats who find they have one less parking space for their vroom-vroom-go-faster cars when they drive up to the back gates to pay their condolences to their dear departed.

But it doesn't phase the Tramp in the least.

His view is that the dead already have their space, and he only wants to occupy a slightly larger bit of turf outside the gates until it is time for him to take up permanent residency on the other side of the wall. He also reasons that it won't require a hearse to get him there.


For me it is more significant that it takes the presence of this man, who lives a totally transient life, to give me a feeling of permanence!

Bizarre ...


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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Time …

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

Sir Winston Churchill



Wootton Bassett is a sleepy little Market Town situated a few miles south of Swindon. It is also a 'dormitory' town that serves RAF Lyneham, and which served RAF Wroughton when the hospital there was a functioning entity. During my RAF career I have had spells at RAF Lyneham, CIO (Careers Information Office) Swindon, and had occasion to use the medical facilities at RAF Wroughton. To say I know the town well would be an understatement!

So it is with mixed feelings, much of it tinged with sadness, that I watch the repatriation of our military personnel through the quiet streets of the little hamlet, and marvel at the genuine outpourings of grief and tributes of respect proffered to the funeral corteges each time this sad event takes place.

The processions through the streets, and the crowds that gather to pay their respects, have no political agenda. They gather to pay homage to fallen heroes, and to the members of their families for whom this must be the hardest, the most final act of affirmation.

Imagine my sense of outrage when a dick-head called Anjem Choudary announced that his group, Islam4UK, intended to hold a 'protest' march through the streets of Wootton Bassett in which fake coffins would be carried representing the civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

Let me establish Choudary's background. He is 43 years old, born in Welling, England. He was a medical student at Southampton University, but switched to commercial law. On graduation he became a solicitor and then chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers. He later met Omar Bakri Muhammad, the 'Tottenham Ayotollah' who has subsequently been banned from the UK. They formed the Islamist organisation al-Muhajiroun, which has also been banned by the British government. He then helped form Al Ghurabaa, also banned by the government. He is now the spokesman for Islam4UK. He has openly praised the terrorists involved in 9/11 and the London 7/7 bombings. He has also called for the implementation of Sharia Law throughout the UK.

In fairness to other Muslims, Choudary has received little support from the mainstream UK Muslim population. But I have to wonder why he is tolerated at all. We can't 'send him back', because he was born in the UK. Surely there are laws of incitement that can be brought to bear?

And here's the rub.

The former Mayor of Wootton Bassett although, "... appalled at the suggestion of such a march," goes on to say, "If this man has any decency about him he will not hold his march through Wootton Bassett."

The Prime Minister, Gormless Gordon, called plans for the march, "... offensive and disgusting."

The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, said he would back any request from police or local government to ban the march.

And - wait for it - the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, a former chief constable in Northern Ireland said, "People have the right to march. Others might not like it, but that's it."

Have we gone completely MAD?

Winnie must be squirming in his grave!

So, what are my credentials for getting on my high horse? Simple, really.

  • I was NOT born in the UK. I was born in India.
  • I adopted the UK as my home and accepted its laws and customs as my own when I arrived as an immigrant.
  • I have never wanted it to be anything different.
  • I served Queen and Country for 36 years in the Royal Air Force.

It is inconceivable to me that anybody born and bred in the UK would wish for it to be anything other than British; English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish by extension, but nevertheless British.

Not so very long ago I saw somebody wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the logo "Enoch was right". I no longer wonder whether his prophesy in the "Rivers of Blood" speech could have been mere mischief-making.

Allow me to quote the line from the speech that has subsequently been used to label it:

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.

Me too, Enoch. Me too ...




Breaking news on Sky states that the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, has moved to ban the organisation called Islam4UK. Considering the massive backlash from the general public towards these morons, I would have expected nothing less.

It also occurs to me that his action in banning this bunch is a bit of a Pyrrhic victory. He has banned the same lot masquerading under different names before, and as sure as Allah made little apples, they will re-emerge under some other equally despicable guise.

Ah, well ...


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Monday, 11 January 2010

Hell …

Hell must be isothermal; for otherwise the resident engineers and physical chemists (of which there must be some) could set up a heat engine to run a refrigerator to cool off a portion of their surroundings to any desired temperature.
Henry Albert Ben



A recent blog discovery for me has been that of 'Chairman Bill' of The Thoughts of Chairman Bill. His banner headline warns that his blog, "May contain traces of satire, irony and sarcasm." Add to that a large dose of irreverence and you begin to realise that almost every one of his superbly written posts will make your hair stand on end.

Your reasons for bristling may be very different to mine, but I can promise that you won't be bored. I am particularly enamoured of the way he uses the English language, and his vast vocabulary.

Reading his latest offering, 'The Chairman's Sunday Sermon', I was reminded of the joke article that has done the rounds of the internet for some time, the one about whether Hell can be considered 'exothermic' or 'endothermic'. If you missed it, I reproduce it for you below. Interestingly enough, the outcome is easily changed, and I have chosen to repeat only one scenario.


The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:


Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?


Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

  1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
  2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct ... leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God!"



If you assume Teresa is still holding out, you can change the outcome to suit yourself.

Be happy ...



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